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Meet Ruomiao Li

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruomiao Li.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ruomiao. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up being a kid who loves stories. In a competitive city like Beijing in the early 2000s, being a primary school kid means taking as much as after-school classes as you can. Since my parents are both super successful in their academic careers, I first convinced myself that I was going down the same route. However, after coming back home from a whole day of Olympic Math class, what attracted me the most was novels. I couldn’t let go as I start diving into the story and got nearsighted from reading them in the dim light while trying to hide from my parents. As I went to middle school, I got introduced to manga and anime, leading my interest in designing original characters and world-building. I was lucky enough to get to know friends who were also passionate about these. Sharing the artwork we found online and exchanging sketchbooks became one of the best parts of school life.

The biggest influence for me to decided to attend an animation school is Kon Satoshi’s work. I was so impressed with how his animation could be as fascinating as live-action movies but even more expressive and imaginative. My interest in bringing my visions to life with the media of animation leads me to CalArts, which is thousands of miles away from home. I just finished my third year here and I am still grateful for this opportunity to make cartoons with a bunch of talented artists.

Has it been a smooth road?
It was a relatively smooth one, but there were some small struggles on the way. When I first landed in California after a 13-hour long flight, the excitement of starting a new life soon got taken over by anxiety. I was confused by the concept of observing and drawing from life, something was constantly mentioned by most instructors at school. The fantasy world I built and the characters I created were imitations of the works I loved, but they had little correlation with my life. It was a tough first year at college for me as I could not hear my inner voice.

The turnaround came after I got back home for summer vacation and spent more time with my family and friends. I realized how every one of them has such a personality and how small things happened around me could be so intriguing. This better understanding of observation helped me to know myself more in-depth. Also, building hobbies other than drawing helped too. I devoted more time to photography and started to get my hands on dancing. They provide me a new point of view and a different logic of thinking. Although it is still work in progress, my voice is getting more clear now.

Please tell us more about your art.
I am a story artists and I visualize stories for animation by drawing out storyboards, sketches of story points. It is an art of conveying the story point with the clearest drawing. If we play the storyboards with a certain timing, it is basically a rough version of the final film. At work, story artists usually help the directors to bring their story to life, but luckily, as students at CalArts, we could make a personal film each year. I want to create stories that are relatable to a wide audience. Boarding emotional drama is such a joy for me since digging the thought process behind characters is fun and rewarding. Nevertheless, I also enjoy telling stories in different genres. As a result, my 1st-year through 3rd-year films are completely distinct, ranging from thriller comedies to emotional dramas and stop-motion to 2D animation.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the diversity of the city. It is thrilling to think about how people from all over the world are here for their dream and how many amazing works they are producing. You can always find your community and your people whatever you are in to. Do you like Vocaloid? No problem! There’s Miku Expo waiting for you. Also, the abundance of choice for foods is incredible. As picky as I am about eating, I could still get satisfied wherever I visit around the city. However, I do have compliant about public transportation. As a kid who grew up in a city with convenient shared-bikes, subways, and buses, It’s not hard to see why.

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